Sarvesh Agrawal, brain behind Internshala, with
N2MN changemaker Brototi Roy.
Internshala is an online platform meant to help students all over India with their quest for a meaningful summer internship. Engineering / Technology and Social Entrepreneurship / Public Service opportunities are its primary interest areas with special focus on start ups.
Journey from a business analyst to an entrepreneur would have not been easy, tell us about the driving force that motivated you to start INTERNSHALA?
Ever since I graduated from IIT Madras in 2006 I wanted to do a start up because I felt that learning and fun involved would be immense. I am fascinated by the impact Education and Technology can have on a human being's life, having been the first hand beneficiary of both myself, and wanted to do something in this area.
In October 2010, while brain storming with a few friends on possible business ideas we zeroed down on a student portal (which quickly distilled down to an internship portal given the obvious need and absence of any major players). At the same time a friend of mine from IIT Madras days, who was then doing his MBA from London Business School, was looking for an internship in India in a niche area and could not get any despite such academic credentials which I found very odd and the decision to start an internship portal was confirmed.
First thing that comes in your mind when you think about INTERNSHALA?
Financing a new budding organization is always a problematic task… how you managed to finance INTERNSHALA?
Internshala is advantaged in a sense that it works with youth who are always willing to lend a helping hand to a cause that they so closely identify with. Lot of students from all over India intern/volunteer with Internshala because they relate to the problem we are trying to solve and believe in Internshala – this takes away considerable amount of manpower cost.
In addition, lot of other businesses who want to reach out to growing youth market segment, use Internshala platform to advertise their product and services for a fee which helps keep the ball rolling. Given most of its online, we have been able to keep the operating costs low by using lots of freewares (Wordpress, Google Apps etc.) which has also helped.
You work closely with youths. How you see them shaping the future of India by working towards the sustainable development?
One thing that is obvious is that in today’s social media age, youth is more aware and can easily lend voice to a cause if it strikes a chord. However, it’s on us to guide and channel this increased awareness and energy towards a worthy cause. Today’s youth are not afraid of voicing their opinions and are more willing to take risk today compared to a decade ago. Hopefully some of this would translate into a better future for all of us.
One significant moment that changed the social arena for once and all in India in last 12 years?
I’d think that it is Right to Information act – the reason I say so is because this empowers a common citizen to become a watch dog for many social welfare schemes being run by the government and hence, perhaps, ensuring better delivery.
At a global level, I think its advent of Social Media which has changed the way we interact and react to outside world for ever and social arena is not left out. Support for Anna Hajare’s campaign on Facebook is a prime example.
A Word of guidance to News Not Making News for revolutionizing the news sector in India?
I am too young and inexperienced to offer any guidance but as a reader I think there are two main challenges:-
- How do you stay away from the peer pressure of ‘Breaking News’ culture and still be able to get reader’s attention in today’s 140 characters tweet age
- When ‘Paid News’ is becoming an acceptable norm, how do you win the trust of the readers as source of authentic and unbiased news? It’s scary that today even Media cannot be trusted as being a truthful guardian of democracy.